Skylar Diggins-Smith

Skylar Diggins-Smith launches the first Puma collection ‘Desert Sky’ – Andscape | Pro Club Bd

It’s been nearly five years since WNBA star Skylar Diggins-Smith became the first basketball player to sign with Puma in nearly two decades. At the time, her decision was described as fearless, as the brand didn’t even have basketball shoes to play in.

“I listened to a vision and took a leap of faith from other brands,” said Diggins-Smith, an All-Star guard at the Phoenix Mercury after starting her career at Nike and wearing Adidas in college.

Following the introduction of a handful of basketball silhouettes descended from the brand’s iconic “Clyde” sneaker – the first signature sneaker for an NBA player, named for 1970s New York Knicks guard Walt “Clyde” Frazier – is Puma’s vision for its female athletes took shape a year ago.

The brand added costume designer and stylist June Ambrose as Creative Director of Puma Women’s Basketball with the launch of the High Court Collection in late 2021. This served as a starting point for the brand, which emphasized a mix of versatile silhouettes that could work on or off the court.

On the side, Diggins-Smith was working on her own capsule line—trainers, a jersey dress, shorts, and a t-shirt—called the Desert Sky collection.

When Diggins-Smith began creating the series with a team of Puma designers, she contemplated the nature of the city she currently calls home.

“It’s the representation of duality to me,” she said. “When I came out here and saw that there were mountains and how scenic it was, there was something about the sunrises and sunsets and the color just caught my eye. When I think of sunrise, I think of opportunities and new chapters. When I think of a sunset, I think of reflection and that contrast.”

While the hues are inspired by the landscapes of Phoenix, the orange and purple hues also tie straight into their team’s colors. At a time when the WNBA and NBA no longer have color rules for sneakers, that has become somewhat rare for athletes’ collections.

Posing by the pool in trainers or styled in a stretchy, snap-back jersey dress in a modern mansion, even the way the campaign images were photographed took on a new tone for Diggins-Smith and Puma.

“I loved it and the versatility of not just standing in the gym and bouncing a ball,” she said.

As she debuted pieces from the collection, the Mercury star took advantage of the photographers waiting for her arrival for another shoot at the home game’s tunnel entrance. She stepped out in jersey dress #4, snakeskin trousers, boots and dark shades, and wore ‘Desert Sky’ TRC Blaze Court trainers.

Skylar Diggins-Smith arrives at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on July 29 in a jersey dress from her Puma collection.

Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images

“You see more and more players who are very conscious about what they wear these days,” she said. “I love that people pay attention because there are a lot of stories that come with these outfits that we put together. Details that say a lot about a person’s personal style.”

For example, the jersey dress in the collection represents the late 90’s and early 2000’s for Diggins-Smith.

“It was the nostalgia of when I started loving basketball and playing with the hoop for the first time, and that kind of bright colors at the time,” she said.

The collection also includes a graphic t-shirt that commemorates Diggins-Smith’s family, their journey in sport and their beginnings at Puma.

Skylar Diggins-Smith wears a ‘You Do You’ t-shirt from her new Puma collection.

puma

The t-shirt has a snarling puma cat on the front and it says “You Do You” underneath. It’s a nod to the message of encouragement her mother, Renee, who speaks American Sign Language, would give her before her teenage basketball games.

“She was always on top, so she could just be in her zone,” Diggins-Smith recalled. “What she did is she gave me a sign, ‘You Do You.’ So you do your thing. No matter what happens, be yourself and don’t be like someone else.”

Along the tongue of the sneakers and the left sleeve of the shirt are a series of sign language gestures that spell out the phrase.

“Even when she’s playing in front of thousands and thousands of people, I still see her in the crowd and she’ll say the same thing to me when she comes to games now. That was the symbolism there,” she continued. “My mother always encouraged me to be myself and that’s the message I want to convey to everyone. In this day and age when everyone is trying to imitate or emulate someone, just do it.”

Skylar Diggins-Smith wears ‘Desert Sky’ TRC Blaze Court sneakers which have ‘Beauty’ and ‘Beast’ written on the back.

Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Appearing in her sixth WNBA All-Star game in Chicago last month, Diggins-Smith donned her Desert Sky sneakers and revealed additional phrases on both heel tabs. On the left was “Beauty”, opposite “Beast”.

“It’s really about that duality,” she said. “If you see me off the pitch or outside of this element, I’m different. When I’m in that fight-or-flight moment and the competitive juices are on, it’s like I never know what I’m going to do the next minute.

Since Diggins-Smith signed in 2017, Puma Hoops’ women’s roster has expanded to include Brenna Stewart, former WNBA No. 1 pick Jackie Young, sniper Katie Lou Samuelson and, in May, No. 2 pick NaLyssa Smith.

Diggins-Smith, Stewart and Young made an appearance at this year’s All-Star Game.

“We were very well represented there for our brand considering that’s 60% of us [Puma] roster,” she joked.

With the debut of Stewart’s “Stewie 1” signature shoe – the first WNBA signature shoe in a decade – and Diggins-Smith’s upcoming “Desert Sky” collection, Puma plans to further highlight its five WNBA headliners.

“It’s great that the brand continues to set the standard for brands with what we do,” said Diggins-Smith. “Showing that they invest in their athletes goes beyond the court and moves the game forward.”

Nick DePaula is a footwear industry and lifestyle writer at Andscape. A native of Sacramento, California, he has lived in Portland, Oregon, a major hub of the sneaker company’s headquarters, for the past decade. He often argues that How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days is actually an underrated film, largely because it’s the only time his Sacramento Kings have reached the NBA Finals.

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